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Category Archives: ACWS

Relating to American Civil War Society

Prado success, on to Costa Mesa

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What makes an award look even better? Two cute little girls holding it!

What makes an award look even better? Two cute little girls holding it!

We introduced a new “room” to our household at Prado – a wall tent as our bedroom – so our full household now features a kitchen, parlour, children’s play room and bedroom. It was a lot to set up, but the hard work paid off and we took 1st Place as the Most Authentic Civilian Camp for the second time. Squeee!

When we set up at Costa Mesa we will be just a diminutive version of our household, with a fly and small tent, but we will have our bookshop, and will be teaching handcrafts. Hope you will come out and join us!

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To Mrs. McCoy
New York, New York

My dear friend,

How good it was to visit with you during your stay in Mrs. Brewer’s lovely home. I could readily see that you are in good looks and vibrant health. I do hope your travels have not been too strenuous, that you found all well at home and hearth when you arrived, and that you are now exulting in the comfort of your own surroundings.

What a shame it is that the weather turned cold during your sojourn here. Though we were unable to sit on the veranda and admire Mrs. Brewer’s beautiful and colorful garden, the warmth of friendship more than made up for the lack of warmth in the air. It is always a pleasure to chat with friends over a cup of tea, whether indoors or out.

Our bookshop suffered a bit of a downturn this past weekend, when battle was engaged closer than ever to our town. The situation seemed almost intolerable what with the relentless din of the rifles, the great explosions from the cannons, and the thunder of the cavalry charging into the fray. Many townsfolk fled in anticipation of an invasion by the enemy, but our valiant soldiers protected us from such an awful fate, and the people returned to their homes safe and sound.

You will be pleased to know that we have taken your ideas to heart and developed new crafts to teach the younger members of our clientele. We were unable to test their popularity because of the recent unpleasantness, but we hope to soon see great success with their addition to our little shop. We expect another opportunityto test them out quite soon.

Please give my all my best to your loving husband, and best of luck with the rose bushes this summer.

In friendship and all sincerity,

Mrs. Marshall

My dear friend Maggie,

I thought you might like this photograph of us that was made in August while we picnicked in the park. I thought it such a lovely image of the four of us, I had one made for each you, Caroline and me. I hope we will meet again soon, the miles between us are too great, but our letters keep us close to heart.

Yours truly,


Friends To Reunite In Costa Mesa

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Dear Mrs. Coffin,

We are heartily looking forward to visiting with you this upcoming 14th and 15th of May! My sweet Melody has already asked if she will be able to procure the delectable  grapes you frequently have on your table and we hope to spend tea time together if at all possible. It will be such a busy week-end, what with the troops in bivouac so closely near by in Costa Mesa and we refugees simply attempting to stay out of their way. Such is the life for we women who undertake to bring some civility and refinement to these Western outposts and wilds of California.

We expect our visit to be an enjoyable one, and with deep fondness anticipate a joyous reunion.

Ever your friend,

Mattie Marvel

Troops moving on toward Vista

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Dear Mother and Father,

I write to allay your fears and to assure you that Caroline and I, Melody and her father, Mrs Marshall and her family, all are safe and the armies have moved on from Prado Park. The battles were fierce, frightening and intense. The damage to the local countryside is very bad, with craters left from the mortar fire that rained down from above and the hills scarred with the breastworks built as deterrents to the opposers.

The contingent of soldiers left to supervise the burial detail have shown themselves to be fine and humble men tasked with the terrible responsibility of sorting out the dead and interring them. Furthermore, they have hired out some local men to remove the corpses of the many horses left on the field. It saddens me to see such a great loss of life of young men and livestock that could be put to such greater use to further our nation!

We hear that the troops are moving south and massing near Vista, California. Our hope is that the result will be much similar to that at Picachoo Pass out in Arizona. To settle the disputes without further loss of life would be the best outcome, though out here we do not get news until it is quite old and I ask that you please let us know if there is any chance for diplomacy any longer.

I have just finished a new dress for Melody, as she is moving into her short skirts! She is quite the little charmer and enjoyed twirling her skirts around her, much as Caroline and I did as girls. How the time flies so quickly. I will write again soon, dearest parents, and pray that you are well and safe.

Your loving daughter,


Troops Seen Massing at Prado Regional Park

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My Dearest Husband,

Time draws onward and I find myself missing you terribly. I do hope you are keeping well out in the elements with the Army and that my last letter arrived with the blanket intact. Spring is starting to blossom in the garden. The bulbs are sending their stems skyward and I eagerly anticipate the burst of color their blooms will bring to brighten my days.

As every day passes we hear terrible news from the front lines of the war. Just last week Mrs. Henderson received word that her son was killed in action down in South Carolina. It is such a tragedy that his mortal remains will stay down in the south so far away from his mother. She wept with such great sorrow, but has turned her attention to her grandchildren who will need her and Mr. Henderson now all the more.

On lighter news we had word that your cousin, Lieutenant George Brewer, is back in port with his shipmates in the Navy for a week or so. Dear Margaret is so happy to be with him for even a short time.

While the news here is both happy and sad, the war has been creeping ever closer to our own door step. By April we will be hearing cannon as close as Prado Regional Park. This is almost more than we should hope to bear, but word is out that the Federal troops will be bivouacking there, which undoubtedly will bring Confederate troops not too far behind them. I just know that our boys will prevail and take the day. There will also be time for some visiting with old friends at this time, too. Widow Peters from Kansas Mercantile will be passing through with her wares, as she follows the army on its marches. I do hope we will be able to make a visit to her humble establishment at that time without thought of injury from gun fire.

As always, my dearest husband, you are next to my heart in thought and prayer. I long for the day when I see you come up the walk to stay home permanently.

Until then, I remain your faithful wife,


A letter to our dear cousin

Dearest cousin,

Faithful reader, you are so kind to grace these pages again! My simple words and phrasing shall hopefully express all of the sights and sounds to take in during the recent unpleasantness which took place at Huntington Beach, California. As we heard tell, troops gathered on the afternoon of Friday last, with hundreds encamping to fight to the very death protecting our fair town. There were many represented among us civilians, to include our esteemed President Lincoln, the traitorous Senator Davis, the Widow Peters, numerous shops and tradesmen, the hospital, the Georgia Relief and Hospital Society, D/D Tavern, and of course us, as we took refuge in Mrs Brewer’s Parlour.

Saturday the tensions between the opposing armies mounted as the temperature rose with the sun. I fear that many good soldiers were felled by the intense humidity, which hovered around 80% though falling. They did not engage until nearly half past one, and the fighting lasted through the rest of the day with a brief lapse mid afternoon. Twilight found the camps settled however, and music was apparently heard throughout.

Miss Melody spent the day Saturday exploring the town, collecting sticks and leaves, and entertaining us with music played with her plate and spoon. Her Papa took her walking and the two shared lemonaide, a hot dog, and a new fangled confection made of cake, cream and a chocolate coating, with the unusual appellation of “Ding Dong” although I am uncertain how this is to remind us of church bells ringing. Sunday however, she escaped the heat and humidity with Father, while Mother was tending shop along with Mrs Marshall. Mrs Brewer certainly endeavored to care for us amidst the heat and herself suffering from intense fatigue and ague. Mr J— spent the day in the parlour with us and escorted Mrs Marshall out shopping in the afternoon. Thankfully, the heat was relieved a bit and we were able to enjoy our day more fully. I spent a portion of the day reading to Mrs Brewer from Edgar Allen Poe, the story of Marie Roget. A frightening escapade, that! but I look forward to my next visit with her to continue the story all the same.

With the falling barometer, the tension between the two armies was also lessened and the battle between them, although continued from the day previous and skirmished and engaged throughout the day, was resolved no later than three in the afternoon, allowing a tactical victory to the Federal troops but a victory of morale to the scandalous Confederates who overwhelmed the artillery unit which had taken up position at the area closest to the the town. It was a fearful moment to see our boys in blue overtaken with butternut, gray and brown. Fortunately for us, the Southern men were gentlemen in their deeds and allowed the gunners to live, and they did not sack the town.

My dear, I must close this now, for Miss Melody begs my attention, as a young girl must of her mother. I hope that I will hear from you in the near future with news of home in New York. Until then, I remain,

Your faithful cousin,
Mrs Mattie Marvel

Post Script, I enclose herein a carte de visite which was made during this eventful weekend by a traveling photographer, of Mrs Marshall resting within Mrs Brewer’s parlour. The fatigue of this terrible war can be seen in her eyes. We are all tired of the uncertainty and pray to the heavens that peace will soon be restored to our great nation!

Mrs Marshall


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